Friday, November 06, 2009

Materialism and popular culture: The human brain as a machine?

The Immanent Frame, an interesting blog, offers "Spiritual Machines: an interview with John Lardas Modern" (October 5, 2009) by Nathan Schneider:
John Lardas Modern, an assistant professor of religious studies at Franklin & Marshall College, draws on the Beat poets, phrenologists, prison reformers, and Moby-Dick to show why taking technology seriously forces us to think differently about the boundaries of religion. He spoke recently with Nathan Schneider about the ambiguity of agency in the age of technology and the porous border between the material and the spiritual.
I'm completely unconvinced myself, because I think we are far more like oceans than machines. And remember, as an oceanographer told me last May, 97% of the ocean is unexplored.

There is also an interesting article by Michael Hout and Claude S. Fischer on unchurched believers:
Hout and Fischer discuss their statistical findings concerning the growing number of "unchurched" or "unaffiliated" believers in the United States.

For more commentary on the growth of the "no religion" population, see "Religious 'Nones' and the future of American Religion," our overview of relevant opinions and analyses collected from around the Web.
This is an important question, and I am glad Hout and Fischer are raising it. Religious Nones are not usually materialist atheists; they are simply people who do not identify with a religious denomination. Materialist atheism is rare in North America, apart from some university faculties, which are having a hard time making their case.

Identification with a religious denomination means less than one might think. I once bought a book about moving to a rural area in Canada, in which I was - reasonably - informed that one was expected to identify with a religious denomination in those parts, but was in no way expected to believe or attend church.

The author assumed that I would be reassured on hearing this. Uh, no.

I was alarmed. The church might well be full of hypocrites, liars, schemers, and poseurs.

Oh well, whoever said it would be easy? Onward!

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